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RAGNARÖK

Ragnarök

Prog Folk


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loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars RAGNARÖK's first release is an all time folk -prog classic and must be heard. RAGNARÖK blend elements from "Meddle" Era FLOYD, with touches of JETHRO TULL, FOCUS and CAMEL. Their first release was all instrumental and offers loads of acoustic guitar (aka. Seamus), flute and keyboards with amazing musicianship. This album has always given me a feeling of solitude for some reason and is a great piece of music to reflect on life with. This re-release is very well transfered and I am amazed at the sound clarity. Songs are not long or epic in nature but seem to instead flow with cascading perfection short piece by short piece. Many passages are slow and deeply forboding in structure conjuring memories of the most tranquil/spacey PINK FLOYD. RAGNARÖK never get too loud and instead work on surrounding the listener with multi - layered quiet prog lanscapes to deal with. Essential stuff!

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#30582)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars Add up another halfstar for this gem. I have been aware of this album since the late 70's but never managed to put an ear on it until the mid-90's. It was worth the wait , I must say as from the first note on , I felt transported into this calm reflective soul-searching world. If Mr. Unger points out a few band that might help you define their sound , I personally am thinking of the best Fleetwood Mac album : Then Play On. This 1970 album is the last with Peter Green and does not sound like the blues-oriented Mac at all but comes closest to Ragnarok and is certainly easier to find than the swedish record, so get an ear on that Mac and see if you want to hunt down the object . I personally can only advise you to do so. Very acoustic by the guitar and the wind instruments, the production is great and crisp sounding. The following albums however do not sound anything like this and they came six or seven years later with different people.

Watch out , for there is a mid-70's New Zealand band with the same name and also a late 90's HM outfit also.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#30583)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
ymakry@in.gr
5 stars What should i say. This is a dreammy swedish prog masterpiece. Every chord, every second, every minute is superb. The guitarist and the organist are so emotional players. Pure progressive with lots of moody staff. I guess it is highly recommended. Definitely one of the best albums of the year (1977). I guess that you have to buy it if you have not hear it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#30584)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ouf!! If you like very good accoustic guitar + very good flute + good Electric guitar = hear ragnarok !! The music is little similar to Jethro but more smooth and 'jazzy'. This cd is very good for the last cd of the journey before go to the bed !!! Relax ! But 'virtuoses'. Four and half stars !!

Alain paquet qc

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Send comments to alain paquet (BETA) | Report this review (#50596)
Posted Friday, October 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the album the introduced me to Swedish Prog... This is the masterpiece of Ragnarök, a swedish band that incorporates swedish folk and elements from prog bands like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Camel, and some soothing jazzy textures that work perfectly... This is one of those albums to just sit back and listen, it's haunting from the first note, with a flavor of swedish woods and a magical aroma... A very emotional album, and very influential for Swedish Prog (Some Paatos moments come to my mind, and also some Opeth acoustic Passages)

Highlights: Promenader, Dagarnas Skum, Fabiksfunky, Tatanga Mani.

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Send comments to Mnemosyne (BETA) | Report this review (#51279)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
Heptade
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A nice mellow album...not sure how it's "folk-prog", since jazz-rock appears to be the primary influence. There are some nice acoustic guitar parts, however, especially on "Tatanga Mani". This is a instrumental album that will draw obvious comparisons to another mellow jazzy-prog album, Camel's The Snow Goose. While the melodies on this album don't come close to Camel's in quality, it certainly is a pleasant background listen. Some good electric piano parts and flute enhance the comparison. Bascically if you like mellow prog, this is a good listen. But if you're a Scandinavian prog enthusiast, don't expect any dark nights of the soul- this is quite cheery stuff in its own way.

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Send comments to Heptade (BETA) | Report this review (#55811)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars What a seductive sound these guys make! All instrumental, sometimes bordering on a seventies porn-soundtrack sound (particularly “Promenader”), but Ragnarök show some clear early psych and even jazz influences to help soften the melancholy that seems to pervade just about all progressive Scandinavian music. The result is a soothing but occasionally adventurous album that is a joy to listen to over and over.

The instrumentation here opens with quite of bit of acoustic guitar and flute, and while both remain in play throughout it doesn’t take long before the electric guitar and bass make themselves known, as well as saxophone (though the brass is quite subdued for the most part). Multi-instrumentalist Henrik Strindberg plays guitar, flute and saxophone, and also provided most of the arrangements. Strindberg would go on to produce a long string of solo and collaborative contemporary classical/new-age works under his own name although he still is associated with the band, which still tours. They have not released a new studio album under the name Ragnarök in more than sixteen years though.

There is a distinctly neo new-age sound on some tracks, especially “Fabriksfunky” and “Dagarnas Skum”, while others like “Tatanga Mani” and “Nybakat Bröd” are much more acoustic and folkish than most of the album. I personally wouldn’t classify these guys as folk though – the jazz and new-age tendencies are a bit too strong for that. But this is closer than their next album which would be a much more ambient and frankly dull affair with an almost completely different lineup.

The standout track here is “Dagarnas Skum”, an eight minute offering that spends about half its length building like some sort of early post-rock composition before wandering off into jazz/fusion territory in a muted form of a jam session. An unexpected but not unwelcome focus shift that culminates in a repetitive and hypnotic guitar passage that gives life to an otherwise very mellow section of the album.

I wouldn’t rank these guys up there with any of the great Swedish prog bands like Änglagård, Fläsket Brinner, or probably even Flower Kings. But they do what they do quite well, and the production on this album is impeccable. Not for those who want the music to be at the forefront of whatever they are doing, but if you are looking for something ambient that won’t put you to sleep and may cause you to perk up your ears every few minutes, this may be your album.

Here once again our rating system fails us, as this is about as close to a 3.5 star album as I have heard in quite a while. But in deference to the high technical quality of the musicianship, and in recognition that these guys manage to avoid the Scandinavian pill-swallowing depression that so much music from that region evokes, I’ll push that up to four stars and call it good.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#132171)
Posted Tuesday, August 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ragnarök's eponymous debut album is a lovely expression of how serenity and melancholy can work together as effective sources of inspiration and motivation for exquisite music with a deep artsy drive. This is progressive music divided between the pastoral folk-rock and the soft jazz tendencies that the ensemble handles equally well. The splendor of Ragnarök is not in the fireworks, but in the sparks, which provide a consistent illumination through their sift brightness. 'Farvel Köpenhamm' kicks off the album with a delicious set of harmonic sequences driven by multiple acoustic guitars, tastefully complemented with minimal guitar layers. The pastoral vibe is well accomplished, with a clever use of serene moods. 'Promenader' remains in evocative realms, though the sound is fuller due to the use of electric guitars in the track's core development: the slow pace and the guitars' main bluesy undertones make the track stay solid on a jazz-oriented sort of melodic prog. The plain pastoral factor returns quite enthusiastically with 'Nybakat Bröd', again featuring multiple acoustic guitars and also, in this case, a well ordained flute duet. 'Dagarnas Skum' sets a compromise between both areas, with a slight predominance of jazzy moods: picture a Hansson-inspired drive for the intimate side of early Pink Floyd, plus some touches of Focus' romantic side, and you might as well get close to the sonic source from which the guys of Ragnarök come from and elaborate their own trend. Being the longest track in the album, it will also serve as a provider of wider explorations for the band's general contemplative stance. 'Polska fran Kalmar' is a joyful flute solo piece that operates as a prelude to 'Fabriksfunky', a lovely refurbishment of the sort of slow stuff you can expect from a Weather Report or Brand-X album, only delivered through an ambience shaped with a more developed intimacy. The calculated aggressive flute lines that emerge at place hint at the Van Leer influence. 'Tatanga Mani' has a first half occupied by an acoustic guitar solo, which eventually leads to a bucolic treatment of soft fusion undertones for the second half: Akkerman used to bring some fusion vibrations to half of Focus' acoustic material, so this reference will help the reader to envision the sort of mood comprised here. 'Fjiottot' is a brief, joyful interlude based on a light-spirited sequence of electric piano chords on a Charleston tempo. It is followed by a more solemn piece, 'Stiltie - Uppbrott', which starts with a short intro of soaring grand piano chords, soon evolving into a pastoral motif featuring flute and acoustic guitar. The closing passage brings an unexpected, yet effective Rnaissance-inspired adornment. After this portrait of serenity, the album ends on a melancholic note with 'Vattenpussar'. The marriage of electric piano and picked electric guitar in the intro section very much reflects the feel of water drops softly gathering to form a pool: once the whole ensemble settles in, the main body shows a fluid combination of slow jazz and pastoral. A beautiful ending for such a beautiful album - if prog has a genuine intimate facet among its peculiarly multicolored spectrum, Ragnarök has to be a definitive champion band of that aforesaid facet.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#184750)
Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
bov
5 stars The album starts of with the acoustic "Farväl Köpenhamn", a pleasant and easy-listened opener, that sets the standard for the rest of the record. Next out is "Promenader", a mellow tune that reminds us about the, in reviews of other Scandinavian prog, so often mentioned "Scandinavian melancholy". The song leaves you waiting for it to really take off, either in a positive or a dark, aggressive way. But it doesn't, and in the end I'm glad it didn't. After this comes the acoustic "Nybakat bröd", that introduces a nicely played flute and some vocal madness in the end. After this warmup of sorts, it is time for the album highlight, "Dagarnas skum". The song progresses slowly over a repetitive, yet enjoyable background pattern, always maintaining a nice dreaminess that lasts . A couple of minutes into the song, it enters a groovy jamlike state. Segments of guitar and flute alternate and provide to the song's beauty, while never getting over-ambitious or pretentious and always keeping the mellow feeling. The first side of the vinyl ends with a short flute-piece called "Polska från Kalmar". "Polska" is an old folk dance, often performed in complex time signature. On the second side, we're offered a little (tiny, really) bit happier chords in the funk-jazzy "Fabriksfunky". In "Tatanga Mani", we're yet again approached by a calm acoustic guitar solo, before the song gains just a little bit of momentum with some groovy basslines and pleasurable flute playing. An uplifting interlude comes next. "Fiottot" reminds me about circus music which, for some reason, often seems to be used by Swedish proggers (think Samla Mammas Manna and Änglagård). Maybe I'm taking the whole melancholy thing too far and making the record sound depressive, still I can't but think that this short interlude is some kind of self-knowledgable joke on theirselves, as the interlude seems to be overly optimistic. "Stiltje-Uppbrott" is beautiful and perfectly in vein with the rest of the album. Once more, this song is dominated by acoustic guitar and flute, though a nice piano intro can be heard. The album is rounded off by yet another beautiful and calm (who's surprised?) song. Dreamy and with a smooth jazzy feeling, it segues from a piano intro into a midsection jam, only to introduce some wonderfully dissonant tones of saxophone before slowly coming to an end.

All in all, the album is easy-listenable, yet both sad and beautiful. Looking (hearing?) back, I realise that only "Dagarnas skum" made me really thrilled. But then again, every single note on the album just seemed to be just where it was meant to. I'm thinking that this is what it would sound like if one were to musically describe a world in which there is always autumn. The album takes you away on a dreamy journey from the first second and doesn't release you until the last tone is played.

This is one highly recommended portion of Scandinavian melancholy. 4.5 stars really...

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Send comments to bov (BETA) | Report this review (#212761)
Posted Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I've been drawn to this album cover from the first time I saw it. I didn't know though until I got the album that the dark sky at the top wasn't the night coming but it's actually pollution floating across the sky. RAGNAROK are an all instrumental Swedish Folk band, and this is their debut from 1977.The music here is so tasteful and beautiful, and much like the album cover once you experience it for the first time you will be hooked.

"Goodbye Copenhagen" is led by acoustic guitar melodies throughout. Beautiful song. "Walks" opens with keys and bass as gentle guitar joins in. Electric guitar and drums before a minute then we get this CAMEL flavour. Themes are repeated. "Freshbaked Bread" is led by acoustic guitar and flute throughout. "Foam Of The Days" is by far the longest track at over 8 minutes. It's pastoral to start with intricate guitar. Flute then keys join in. A fuller sound after 3 1/2 minutes. Nice. This is simply gorgeous. "Reel From Kalmer" is a very short flute piece.

"Factoryfunk" has to be a reference to the factory on the back cover of the album where all the pollution is coming from. Intricate drumming and guitar on this great sounding track. "Tatanga Mani" opens with acoustic guitar then it starts to build as flute and bass arrive. "Fiottot" has a good rhythm to it. "Calm-Breaking Up" opens with piano then this beautiful flute / acoustic guitar melodiy takes over. "Pools Of Water" opens with laid back keyboards. Drums and a fuller sound after 1 1/2 minutes. Sax a minute after that. Back to the keyboards to end it.

Easily 4 stars and one of the best Prog-Folk albums I have heard.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#282610)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
historian9
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Site Admin / JRF Team
4 stars Makes you want to live in that front cover.

Unfortunatley, the dilemma of giving this album 4 or 5 stars was quickly decided after the first half, it just didn't grab me like at the start although listening all tracks in order is highly recommended. Later tracks like "Fabriksfunky" and "Tatanga Mani" are more jazz oriented and this being a very backrgoundish or ambient kind of album doesn't help and they tend be a bit of a bore for me. On the other side of things when folky parts kick in with flutes or acoustic guitars it's great and sometimes very pastoral atmospheric in an floydian way, "Dagarnas Skum" is an example of this and a beautiful track.

You could call this very lightweight music, in the sense I sometimes use to describe stuff by CAMEL, very easy on the ear but I see how some might find it boring for being too mellow.

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Send comments to historian9 (BETA) | Report this review (#635512)
Posted Saturday, February 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog-Folk Team
2 stars If you were transported by GOTIC's "Escenes", or enjoyed the less ambient peak period JADE WARRIOR releases, you might find this respected early entry for Swedish prog folk to be a soul mate. Personally, while I find it a pleasant enough listen, I can't get too excited about any of it. It seems to have more in common with the 80s new age to come than to much of its 70s brethren, people like SCOTT COSSU and ALEX DE GRASSI.

The best by far are the opener, which channels the group's obsessively chill vibe into a coherent composition, not to mention the densest acoustic guitar licks to be found here; and the relatively lively "Nybakat Bröd" in which the airy flutes are most prominent above the spring like acoustic backdrop. Most of the rest appears mired in a funk of its own choosing, groovy enough to be sure, but hardly of more than background interest given the intervening years. The lack of memorable melodies might work in a fully jazz oriented work but in a folk context is anathema. The imposing end sections of the final two tracks do crank up the appeal, if only because they remind me I am actually listening to something.

While Ragnarok's debut is a legitimate historical document and clearly appeals to more than just archivists, as a musical journey I find it sorely lacking. Your mileage may of course vary. 2.5 stars rounded down.

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Send comments to kenethlevine (BETA) | Report this review (#641544)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the most intelligent and enchanting works I've heard in a long time.

A large percentage of Scandinavian Prog contains Folk elements. In all honesty, I have little interest in Folk and due to that, until now, this band has eluded my attention. Little I realized that the Folk tag is perhaps incorrectly applied here.

True, there are some very tasteful pastoral passages on acoustic guitar and flutes, but in reality, the whole album has little - if anything - to do with Folk. No more than, say "Ummagumma" by Pink Floyd.

Indeed, the music sounds like early 70's Pink Floyd meet early Camel, Jade Warrior with a brief appearance by Ian Anderson. Melodic compositions enhanced by laid back bass and a slight jazzy touch on electric piano. No sign off stress, scorching guitar runs, but captivating, gentle pieces. That however, doesn't result in a boring New Age material. Not at all, but in a fine balance between thoughtful, meandering compositions and skillfully restrained, brilliant musicianship. Just superb!

An absolute masterpiece? Perhaps not quite, but more like a "missing link" that was worth the long wait. Considering the pleasure I derived from five(!) consequtive spins, I can't go under 5 stars here. A must have for any connoisseur of that era in the 70's.

.

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Send comments to BORA (BETA) | Report this review (#1005307)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Perhaps this is not more folk than Kaipa, Änglagård or Atlas but it is sweat symphonic music with wonderful acoustic guitars. Ragnarök's debut album from 1976(not 77) feasts the listener a very melodic and nice meal with a lot of qualitites. A fantastic thing about this band is that it comes from Kalmar, a pretty city I've lived in for two years when I was a teenager, and also my mothers birth city(and a place I'm going to tomorrow). The name of the band, "Ragnarök" is from the nordic religion "Asatron" where "Ragnarök" is a future happening when a last fight between giants and men is going to take place and the world will fall apart, to rise up again as a new world with new gods and men.

Not a single minute is abd or boring on this record but sometimes are better than others. The first track "Farvel København" (Farewell Copenhagen/Farväl Köpenhamn) (10/10) manages to show us magnificent acoustic guitar play. I can honestly say that Ragnarök's guitars are better than many good prog band's guitars. "Nybakat bröd" (newly baked bread) (10/10) is the other faultless track here, a funny, honest and wonderful melody played on flute and guitar with a jazzy touch in the middle. "Promenader" (Strolls) (9/10) has a jazzy feeling of the seventies that is wonderful in guitar and piano. "Stiltje - uppbrott" (Lull - Decampment) (9/10) is another magnificent track which first grows calmly to explode in the end, allways with skillfully played instruments. Amongst the other tracks "Dagarnas skum" (8/10) a longer, experimenting piece, "Polska från Kalmar" (8/10) a short folk song played on flute and "Fabriksfunky" (8/10), a rich musical world with a unique melody, are worth naming.

When listening to progressive rock I'm often in heaven, and Ragnarök's music is candy for my ears. But I wouln't consider it a masterpiece. If they had done longer, more advanced compositions, perhaps with vocals, it could have come closer, or just fail. Four stars is my not so surprising statement.

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#1022735)
Posted Saturday, August 24, 2013 | Review Permalink

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